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Chinese Whispers

Mandy Nordstrom and her family recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong and China. Here’s what they discovered.

What made you choose this region?
We chose our family vacation to Hong Kong and China as I had heard it was a great destination for kids. I had been to Hong Kong several times as a stopover and wanted to explore it further. We had an extra five days so decided to visit China as well. It was about a two-hour train ride from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and then another hour-and-a-half to Shenzhen. From Shenzhen we got on a local bus to take us to the airport in Hong Kong.

Who went on the trip? How old were your kids? 
Myself, husband, our 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son.

When did you take the trip and how long was it for?

We took the trip in April 2011 and we were gone for 17 days.

Where did you stay and what was your accommodation like?

We stayed in 4-star accommodations as we like to have a pool and a nice hotel room to come back to with the kids after exploring all day. The Holiday Inn Golden Mile was in an excellent location, with the train station and a supermarket close by. We also treated ourselves to four nights at the Hollywood Disney Hotel, where we relaxed by the pool and the kids played in the activity room. Both Chinese hotels were also 4-star, included breakfast, were centrally located and near transport.

What were the highlights of the trip for you? The kids?

In Hong Kong we all loved Ocean Park, the Sampan tour at Aberdeen where our guide kept us entertained with his jokes, the glass-bottom cable car to Ngong Ping360, the ferry trip to Macau, and of course Disneyland.
In China, the kids loved Chimelong Paradise where they met a Chinese school group who wouldn’t stop taking photos of them and asking many questions in the little English they knew.
The main highlight for all of us was shopping in Shenzhen, where we filled a suitcase full of toys, shoes, clothes, etc. Everything was so cheap!

What was the weather like when you went?

We were lucky and had beautiful weather in April. The temperature was around 22-25C with only one rainy day.

What most surprised you about this trip?

An unplanned trip to Chimelong Resort in Guangzhou. The resort area has an International Circus, Safari Park, Water Park, Crocodile Park and an Amusement Park. As the Water Park did not open until 28 April, we chose Chimelong Paradise, the Amusement Park. It was an amazing place. The  roller-coasters would put chills in any thrillseeker. The scariest was the Dive coaster – we gave that one a miss! We did ride the 10 inversion coaster, which holds a Guinness world record for the 10 rings. We also braved the Motorbike Launch coaster and two very wet water rides. We saw a Hollywood-style stunt show and watched Happy Feet in 4D, which was in Chinese and added to the fun. Getting to the resort was easy. We used the public transport system. Make sure you get the directions written in Chinese (the hotel staff can do this), as you may need help at times. Our only regret was we didn’t have any more days to explore the other parks.

What would you recommend about the destination?

Don’t just think of Hong Kong as a stopover destination. We spent 10 days there and never ran out of things to do. China was a great experience for the kids to see a totally different culture and way of life.
We loved how easy it was to travel around on public transport in both Hong Kong and China. Purchasing an Octopus card in Hong Kong is a must, as you can use it on all the public transport including the Star Ferry and Peak Tram.

Was there anything you wish you’d known beforehand and could pass on to other travellers thinking of going to Hong Kong with kids?

Hong Kong is a great place for kids. The people are friendly, helpful and speak English. In China unless you have lots of time and patience, I would recommend having your stay planned through a Chinese travel agent. They can pick you up at the train station, book accommodation and guided tours and organise tickets. They speak very little English there and it can be quite frustrating getting around with children. Make sure all directions are written down in Chinese as taxis drivers don’t speak English.
You only need a day in Disneyland, but if you have more time it is a treat to stay in one of the Disney hotels and take advantage of the two-day pass. We took our time going around and the kids were able to go back on the rides they loved several times over the two days.

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